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Friday, July 3, 2015

"What So Proudly We Hail..."

The Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave comes alive and jubilant on Independence Day. Fireworks create great art in the skies over every city in the nation. On Independence Day we come together in celebration of the "Declaration" that all men are created equal, and that they are endowed by their creator with the Right to Life, Liberty, and the Pursuit of Happiness; the rallying cry for the establishment of a unique experiment in human civilization. America is unique because the idea out of which this great nation derives, and as a function of which it continues to evolve, is one that transcends the usual "ties that bind".  Unlike many others, this is not a nation that derives from the ethnic or other cultural indicators that are used as the main identifiers of a people. As Americans we raise up and celebrate that one trait that lifts us above notions of tribe... We lift up our common humanity as the one dominant factor that breeds true kinship.

Beyond notions of tribe... Beyond the usual ethnic and cultural similarities that are facts of our lives, as a nation we celebrate the ideas outlined in our common creed... We insist to our last breath that as a nation we must elevate the ideals of our common humanity above all else. When Americans say "freedom", we do not hesitate to articulate the idealism that we mean freedom not just for some, not just for whites, or browns, or rich, or a privileged few... We mean freedom for all persons... Everywhere. It is this transcendent notion that marks us as an exceptional nation. It is without doubt a fact that we have not, and do not always live up to our creed. It is a fact that we have transgressed, and in many respects continue to violate the very terms and conditions of our potential and our promise. 

Many are the challenges that still persist as we march toward our existential destiny, but we believe that we are equal to the task of overcoming those challenges. As a nation we shall not abandon the ideals that are inseparable in our very foundation. We refuse to be defined by our shortcomings. Where we fail, we confess our failures and determine to press on to the goals that make us a special people. Where there is injustice, we will remind ourselves of our creed. Where that injustice expresses itself as hate, we will do the work necessary to address that hate and its disciples. Where there is economic inequity, we will band together to balance the scales. When our politicians and police fail us, we will insist on the appropriate remedies through every means available... and necessary. When existing laws fail us we shall insist on the principles outlined in our exalted creed... And we will continue the work of making sure that the Law becomes the handmaid of our ideals.

We have come a long way as a nation. In a land once scarred by the scourge of slavery, a Black family now calls the White House home... For the second of two consecutive terms! We are witnessing in POTUS Barack Obama the most positively consequential Presidency of the last two generations. Minorities once ostracized and subjected to the violent whims and fancies of cultural detractors now enjoy equal protection under the law. Nations once ostracized for reasons that do not apply universally are now back in the fold.. on equitable terms. This is indeed a land of hope and opportunity, and not just for the person born here; but for all who come here and are willing to do what it takes. Hardworking immigrants and their children are able to prosper in ways that are unlikely in the places they came from. No matter where you are from, the prospects of a good education and a more secure economic future here are better than in most other countries.

In the annals of history we are still a young nation. There are nations that we relate to that are many times older than us as a historical unit, but the great strength of the United States of America is in the fact that we are a gathering of all our brothers and sisters from all over this globe called Earth. America represents a coming together of mankind that is powerfully unique. To paraphrase that well known anthem: We are the world. We are its children. Our unique challenge is to find a way to make a brighter day for our brothers and sisters everywhere.

And so when we participate in the spectacle of celebratory bursts of light, let us remember how far we have come and how bright we must continue to shine. Let us see in the rockets' red, white, and blue glare the promise of our diversity. Let us be reminded by the 'bombs bursting in air" of the wonderful potential of a united people... A nation bound together as one by the humane  hopes and aspirations we share. We are a nation in which Hope overcomes Despair... Where the power of Love overcomes the dysfunction of Fear.  What we so proudly hail when we celebrate our coming into being as a nation is the potential and the promise of that Freedom which we claim as a right of our humanity. Every time we say Happy Independence Day America! ...in that same breath, let us hold sacred the Rights of every person to the unique blessings of Liberty.

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